Lexington, Ky., Oct. 4, 2010 — U.S. riders Mario Deslauriers, on Urico, and McLain Ward, on Sapphire, set the pace in the first leg of the team competition at the Jumping World Championships, presented by Rolex. Their performance led the U.S. team to the top of the team rankings, with two more days of team jumping to go at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Deslauriers and Urico stopped the clock after a clear round in 71.25 seconds. Ward and Sapphire, riding almost five hours later in the field of 121 horses, fell just short, in 71.79 seconds.
Sandor Szasz of Hungary, who is competing in his first international championship and has never placed in a major international competition before, surprised his competitors and the roaring crowd in the Rolex Arena by urging Moosbachhofs Goldwing through the finish in 73.24 seconds.
The U.S. team holds the early lead, with 5.69 faults. Germany is second (9.8 faults), France is third (11.32), the Netherlands is fourth (11.33), Canada is fifth (11.93), and Spain is sixth (13.22).
“I had a really nice lunch — my part was over,” said Deslauriers, who rode just before the lunch break. “When I posted a 71, I thought I’d be in the top five, for sure, but I knew there were a lot of top riders after me.”
Deslauriers, 45, is riding on his first U.S. team since changing his nationality from Canadian to American last year. He had been a mainstay of Canadian teams since the 1984 Olympics. “I had been living in the U.S. and had my business here for 24 years, and then I married Lisa and started to ride for Jane Clark, who is very involved in the sport and the U.S. team. It was the right time to finish the change to becoming an American,” said Deslauriers.
ard, 34, said that he and his teammates had come to the Kentucky Horse Park for one reason. “[Chef d’Equipe] George Morris told us when we walked the course to make a plan to win the class, and that’s exactly how we rode our horses,” he said.
Although Lauren Hough and Laura Kraut each suffered 8 faults, to finish 41st and 49th, Morris said that his team had performed according to his plan. “Being here, in our own country, I didn’t gather them together for training [before the World Games]. They had all been competing and training well on their own, and I felt it was better not to get them out of their rhythm. I always follow my instincts,” he said.
Ward praised the course designed by Conrad Homfeld, assisted by Richard Jeffery. “Conrad did a masterful job. It’s a very difficult competition to build for because there is such a range of ability. It was careful and scopey, but it didn’t get messy,” he said.
Szasz said that he had felt confident before he rode. “I thought I would do well. I am happy with my placing and with my team’s placing, because we only have three riders because one of our horses was sold” just before the World Games began, he said. The Hungarian team placed 11th (16.28 faults) today.
“Toward the end of the course I felt comfortable going faster, and now I am sitting here next to these two famous riders, and I have ridden with them today. I feel a lot of pride in that,” added Szasz.
The team competition continues tomorrow, starting at 10:00 a.m. The top 10 teams after Tuesday’s competition will go forward to the team final on Wednesday night.
Today’s competition was also the first individual qualifying competition. The Tuesday and Wednesday team competitions are also individual qualifiers, and the top 30 riders after Wednesday will go forward to the final qualifying round on Friday night. After that, the top four riders will contest the individual final, where they will ride each other’s horses, on Saturday night.
Today’s attendance was 31,246.
About the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are the world championships of eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). The Games are held every four years and this will be the first occurrence in the United States. Tickets to the 2010 Games are still available and can be purchased at www.alltechfeigames.com/tickets, at www.ticketmaster.com, through the Ticketmaster hotline at 1-800-745-3000, or at your local Ticketmaster outlet.
The Games are being broadcast on NBC Sports, which marks the largest commitment to network coverage of equestrian sport in U.S. television history. The 2010 Games are expected to have a statewide economic impact of $167 million, and current sponsors include Alltech, Rolex, John Deere, Ariat International, Inc., Meydan, Kentucky Ale, and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. For more information on the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games please visit www.alltechfeigames.com.
Founded by Dr Pearse Lyons, Alltech is a global animal health and nutrition company with 30 years’ experience in developing natural products that are scientifically proven to enhance animal health and performance. With more than 2300 employees in 120 countries, the company has developed a strong regional presence in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. For further information, visit www.alltech.com.
Public Relations Coordinator
Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
For audio interviews, go to:
Today’s leader, Mario Deslauriers (USA) – http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/Mario%20Deslauriers%20SJ%20rea
2nd place, McLain Ward (USA) – http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/McLain%20Ward%20SJ%20reaction%
3rd place, Sandor Szasz (HUN) in German – http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/Sandor%20Szasz%20HUN%202nd%20s